The Journal of Politics


The Fourth Face of Power

Peter Digesera1

a1 University of California, Santa Barbara


Michel Foucault's writings have given the debate over power yet another twist. But how useful is this novel conception of power to the study of politics? We can better understand Foucault's meaning of “power” (referred to as the fourth face of power or power,) by placing it alongside the debate over power which has occupied political scientists for 30 years. This juxtaposition reveals a conception of power that claims to be both descriptive and critical of the norms governing our self-understandings and political practices. The essay concludes by considering a political response to Foucault's striking notion of disciplinary power.

(Accepted October 30 1990)

(Received November 18 1991)

Peter Digeser is assistant professor of political science, University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106.